Healthy Clean Workplaces

Clean Start Movement

Clean Start is an initiative spurred by trade unions to bring industry participants and customers to work together to raise standards of cleaning and create better conditions and remunerations for employees.

The aim of Clean Start is to promote a set of principles to set a fair but commercially viable benchmark for the whole industry.

There is recognition that the cleaning industry in Australia and New Zealand is in a crisis.  Wages for cleaners are so low that the industry is not capable of attracting and retaining a workforce that is stable, well trained and competent.  Standards of cleaning are at an all time low, which is causing dissatisfaction among customers.

One of the main drivers of this is the spiral of downward pressure on prices.  Cleaning companies have been caught up in a viciously competitive race to the bottom at the expense of providing quality services.  Contracts are lost and won entirely by offering the cheapest price, no matter what the impact is on quality.

The downward trend in service quality is being affected by deregulation and globalisation.  Low standard operators have had the power to set benchmarks, and standards are dropping to the lowest levels.

Researcher Shaun Ryan writes:
“The competitive nature of the product market means that cleaning companies are forced to take a cost cutting approach to competitive strategy.  With clients demanding ‘champagne specifications at flat beer prices’ contract cleaning companies are forced into a competitive strategy based on cost at the expense of quality.”
Source:  Shaun Ryan “Taken to the Cleaners” AIRAANZ Conference, Wollongong, January 2001

Customers need to realise that they will suffer poor quality if they choose the cheapest price – something has to give.

The Clean Start movement is a campaign to raise awareness of what’s happening in the industry, and it aims to halt this downward spiral.  Customers need to accept that they have to pay more for better services, and contractors need to deliver improved levels of quality.  A set of principles have been developed advocating the approach to be taken to achieve change.

Summary of “Principles for a Clean Start”

  • High staff turnover, poor levels of training and supervision, and high levels of injury and illness do not serve the interests of tenants, owners, cleaning contractors and workers in the industry.
  • A high standard of cleaning can only occur where cleaning contracts are designed to permit those results.
  • Contractors who tender for cleaning work should take direct responsibility for the employment and supervision of cleaning personnel in the owners’ buildings.  They should be backed with sufficient financial resources to guarantee that employees will be paid, and the appropriate Occupational Safety and Health protocols are observed.
  • All cleaning staff will be professionally trained to do their jobs in the safest and most efficient manner.
  • Building owners and customers wanting to promote and protect the best standards are conscious of the needs of the industry to maintain it’s financial viability.

In short, the principles are the recognition of a partnership between the cleaning industry participants and their customers: standards need to be improved and maintained for the greater benefit of everybody.  In order to achieve this fair rates need to be paid by contractors, who in turn can provide training, better conditions and increased remuneration to staff.

As a leading industry participant Crest supports initiatives to work with building owners, customers and contractors to improve conditions and service levels in the cleaning industry.

As a company, our philosophies and Modus Operandi meets and exceeds the “Clean Start” principles.  We take pride in distancing ourselves from low cost and low service operators, and we provide a “fair deal” to our personnel, which allow them to build a decent future and career through their ownership of a Crest franchise.

Because neither Crest Commercial Cleaning Ltd nor any of it’s franchised owner-operators are affiliated to any trade unions, Crest will never participate in any industrial relations actions that can cause disruptions to customers.

Note:  Clean Start is a campaign created and promoted by the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union in Australia, and the Service and Food Workers Union in New Zealand.

This article has been sourced from a document called:  “A Clean Start for the Property Services Industry” authorised by Jeff Lawrence, LHMU National Security, 187 Thomas Street Haymarket NSW 2000.